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Emotional Support and Service Animals Policy

What is a service animal?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability, including but not limited to:

  • Guiding individuals with vision impairments;
  • Alerting individuals with hearing impairments to sounds;
  • Assisting individuals with mobility impairments with balance;
  • Assisting individuals with psychiatric disorders with medication reminders, prevention of self-harm, control of light increased orientation.

The service animal may be trained by an organization or its handler, and does not require certification or a license. They may not always wear harnesses, collars or any official designation that they are service animals. Service animals are not pets, but rather working animals that help ensure the safety of people with disabilities. 

Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

No.  These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person.  Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

May I bring my service animal to the hospital?

Methodist Health System welcomes your service animal during your inpatient or outpatient visits to any of our facilities. If the service animal poses a health risk, is not house broken, or the service animal is out of control and you do not take effective action to control it, the service animal may be excluded.

Who is responsible for the care of my service animal during my hospital visit?

Methodist Health System is not responsible for the care or supervision of your service animal. You are responsible for caring for and supervising the service animal at all times, which includes toileting, feeding, grooming and veterinary care.

What if I am unable to care for my service animal during my visit?

If you must be separated from the service animal, it is your responsibility to provide a qualified person to care for the animal. Please arrange to have a friend or family member care for your service animal. Additional questions or concerns can be directed to clinical staff.  

Is there a location where the dog is not allowed?

Yes. The service animal cannot be allowed in sterile areas (e.g. operating rooms, burn units, MRI machines and certain intensive care units). However, the service animal is allowed to be with you in all areas of the hospital or clinic where the public and patients are allowed to go.